With heavy hearts, we bid farewell to a remarkable McGowan family member, Brian Joseph “Ski” Frankowski, who passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2024. Brian was born on September 4, 1963, in Pittsburgh, PA, and was devoted husband of 33 years to Devin Frankowski and a loving and caring and involved father to Michael Frankowski.
Brian started at McGowan in 1997 as a designer fabricator for the Medical Devices Laboratory. Brian played an integral role in expanding the capabilities of the projects in which the laboratory was involved. He worked on developing medical devices for critical care medicine for patients experiencing respiratory failure. Through his work, Brian also got involved in several projects focusing on blood purification for critical care patients. Brian was a beloved member and larger-than-life personality in the McGowan Institute, also going out of his way to help when needed for various exhibits used in fundraising and outreach. In addition, he worked closely with individuals in the Center for Preclinical Studies to help with their fabrication and maintenance needs along the way. While running the day-to-day activities in the Medical Devices Laboratory, Brian helped supervise numerous graduate and undergraduate students. Many of these students came to love Brian and became personal friends with him and his family. Brian’s long-time involvement working in the laboratory led to over $20 million in research funding along with his co-authoring over 75 publications and working as a collaborative inventor on over 20 patents. His loss will be deeply felt as Brian is truly an irreplaceable member of the McGowan Institute, especially in the Medical Devices Laboratory.
Brian’s passions were as vast as his circle of friends, ranging from the raucous beats of rock ‘n roll music to camping under the stars or enjoying campfires and water fun. He enjoyed embarking on road trips, hanging out in the pits at the dirt track, and getting his hands dirty fixing cars. He spent countless hours figuring out how to fix or improve almost everything. He embraced life’s adventures with unwavering enthusiasm. Brian’s garage, his sanctuary into which all were welcome, was a haven where tools mingled with memories and a machine shop boasting and equipped with every tool imaginable, and always offered a comfortable chair for a friend and a fridge stocked with beer.
We all know Brian for his emotional depth which set him apart. He navigated life’s peaks and valleys with unwavering honesty and openness, inspiring others to embrace vulnerability and form deep, authentic connections. His integrity served as a beacon, guiding others to strive for their best. A problem solver with an astute mind, he was both brilliantly smart and delightfully silly, though at times impatience could flicker in his vibrant spirit. A guy of boundless charisma, Brian was a magnet for friendships, effortlessly collecting a diverse array of companions from every corner of his life, from his childhood hubs to bar buddies and neighbors. Even at work, Brian cultivated a rich tapestry of relationships with peers, superiors, and students alike. The ability to do so spoke volumes about his ability to connect deeply with others.
A GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-brian-fight-bran-cancer) has been set up in Brian’s name. If you are able, please donate in memory of Brian.
Brian’s family will receive friends on Friday, January 12, 2024, from 4 pm – 8pm at the HERRICK COMPASSIONATE FUNERAL SERVICE, PC, 951 Cliff Mine Road, North Fayette Township, Imperial, PA, 724-695-7332, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 10:00 am at St. Philip Catholic Parish, 50 W. Crafton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.
For Brian’s full obituary and additional service information, go here.